Angelyne: The Real Woman Behind the Infamous L.A. Billboards

The Hollywood Reporter looks into the story of the forerunner to Kim Kardashian.

August 4, 2017 5:00 am
Angelyne attends LA Pride Music Festival And Parade 2017 on June 10, 2017 in West Hollywood, California.
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - JUNE 10: Angelyne attends LA Pride Music Festival And Parade 2017 on June 10, 2017 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Tara Ziemba/Getty Images)

Angelyne, the L.A. billboard diva who is regarded as the forerunner to Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian, has been a pop culture icon of self-creation and self-marketing since the early 1980s. Though she is known for her platinum blond hair and bright pink Corvette, very few people know her true story.

Her background remained shrouded in mystery, until a genealogist reached out to the Hollywood Reporter with the truth: Angelyne’s real name is Renee Goldberg.

The media outlet independently confirmed Angelyne’s real identity. Raised by Holocaust survivors, Goldberg’s story is an “only-in-L.A. story of identity, history and a symbiotic yearning both to be forgotten and to be famous.”

Goldberg is now 66-years-old. She was born in Poland on October 2, 1950. According to copies of immigration, marriage and death records, her parents, Hendrik (aka Heniek or Henryk) Goldberg and Bronia (aka Bronis) Zernicka, endured unimaginable horrors at multiple concentration camps.

Bronia submitted paperwork indicating that she lost more than 40 relatives in the Holocaust, including her father, three brothers and a sister. After Goldberg’s birth, the family moved to Israel until 1959. Goldberg has a younger sister, Annette, who was born in 1954. Goldberg’s mother died of cancer when Goldberg was only 14, after the family settled in Los Angeles’ Fairfax District.

Goldberg was briefly married to Michael Strauss, the son of a Beverly Hills executive and her paper trail ends with their divorce papers from 1969.

The Hollywood Reporter profiled Angelyne in 2015. When asked about her family and her past, she described herself as an only child and an orphan.

“I lost my parents at a young age,” she said, “and because of that, I sought the attention of the world through my tricks. I said, ‘Well, I’m going to get the love of the world.’”

The Hollywood Reporter article dives deep into Goldberg’s life and Angelyne’s persona. It says that Goldberg had committed to the fundamental principal of Hollywood: escapism. She fully inhabited the character she conjured, so much so, that there was no point of return. She adopted a stage name and altered her body and behavior to fit the character.

Strauss reluctantly ventured a guess about his ex-wife’s character to Hollywood Reporter.

“It’s a persona that must have suited her,” he said. “It made her way in life. It’s not an easy world out there.”

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